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'American Idol' Front-Runner Almost Quit

4/16/2010 1:30 PM PDT BY TMZ STAFF

TMZ has learned "American Idol" contestant Crystal Bowersox threw in the towel a little more than two weeks ago and was walking off the show, when Ryan Seacrest did some fast-talking and changed her mind.

cystal bowersox and ryan seacrest
It went down in a parking lot after an "A.I." show.  In front of several people, Crystal told Ryan she couldn't handle the competition.... she said she hated the attention and said to Seacrest, "What's the point?"

Crystal said she was going back to Ohio to be with her family, whom she missed terribly.

Ryan told Crystal that being on "Idol" was like starting a business, and if she won she'd get a recording contract and become a millionaire.

Seacrest sealed the deal by telling her, "The greatest thing I ever did was make enough money so I could buy my mom a house.  You can buy your mom a house." 

Seacrest out ... Crystal, not out.

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